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                  Terracotta Far East Film Festival Film Review

Visit the Terracotta Film Festival overview on site ,where we take a look at the festival as a whole. With around thirty films over two weeks the show featured films from all genres. See our round up here.

        The Berlin File
Starring : Ha Jung-Woo, Han Suk-Kyu,Ryu Seung-Beom
Director : Ryu Seung -Wan

The Berlin File

Our third film viewed at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival this year, the action kid returns with a internationally shot espionage thriller starring Ryu Seung Beom ( the directors brother) ,Han Suk -Kyu ( Shiri) and Ha Jung-Woo.

The film shot for most part in Berlin is a political thriller surrounding secret bank accounts associated with the North Koreans and arms deal gone bad.

Pyo Jong Seong ( Ha Jung -Woo) is a North Korean agent working in Berlin ,he and his wife Jung-Hee are a key part to intelligence for the North Koreans. Pyo is a the republics hero ,having completed many missions for the homeland and his highly decorated. Jung-Hee works as a interpreter for the North Korean Ambassador in Berlin.

When a arms deal between the North Koreans ,Russians and a middle east party gets interrupted by a Mossad agent it leaves a trail of devastation which catches the attention of South Korean agent Jung Jin-Soo (Han Suk-Kyu) .

From Po's perspective it looks like he was set up in a trap , being that he reports to the North Korean ambassador Ri Hak-So.

For Jung Jin-Soo he means to find out who the mystery agent was and whether he was part of a clever plan to disrupt the deal or was he set up to take a fall.

Finding that the agent is like a ghost with no records on him ,Jung sets out to track him and find out the truth.

Director Ryu Seung Wan has created a fast paced and intelligent spy thriller with enough twists and turns to keep you thinking ,but not at the expense of the fast paced action he is known for.

The directors brother Ryu Seung-Beom plays another North Korean agent by the name of Dong Myung-Soo he's been sent by his father , who is a high ranking official in North Korean leaders Kim Jung-Un's government.

Myung-Soo is sent to keep a eye on Pyo.

As the plot thickens it becomes evident that to the many factions that there is a defection in the works ,but who is the problem they are confronted with , with fingers pointing at various parties it will be a race to uncover the truth.

One things for sure you won't fall asleep as the action escalates into gun fights in the streets ,bombings and assassinations making Berlin a war zone right under the noses of the local authorities.

The unarmed combat in the film is ruthless ,shying away from the Taekwondo style seen in the directors past films, here we have a more raw style of combat , with many moves from Juijitsu,MMA taking the limelight.

There's a great scene where to combatants are shooting at one another and they both run out of bullets .They turn to use the buts of their guns as cold steel weapons and enter into a fight just using the butts of the handguns.

The action is inventive and mesmerising and will keep you on your toes so to speak. But with each piece of raw action another twist in the story is uncovered .

Pyo begins to doubt the people around him and it seems his only ally in all of the mess that surrounds him is someone regarded as the enemy.

We where lucky at the screening of the film to have director Ryu Seung -Wan in attendance . Through a translator he answered questions from the audience .

This gave many insight into how the film came about , The director had met with many North Korean's living in South Korea ,one a former navel officer in North Korea gave many insights to the goings on in the military in the north.

He also discussed how he used little artificial lighting in the film ,using natural light for most part ,this gives the film a very gritty and realistic look to it. There's no Hollywood glamour to this production ,what you get is a gritty international film dealing with real issues.

Being that quite a part of the film is spoken in English,German and even Arabic ,casting was big adventure . He and his team where responsible for the Korean stars ,but to find the Western players he employed the services of a local casting company to assist him.

One audience member asked if he considered the film a Korean or International film. He replied that his film is a home grown film , even though it is shot in Europe. Of course having mainly Korean stars in the main roles it can't really be considered a international film. Even though the film has won much praise when shown abroad.

Seung -Wan was also asked if he would continue to shoot films outside of South Korea. He quite affirmatively said that it was his first and probably his last ,due to the hard shoot it involved in taking his entire crew abroad and dealing in many different languages .

So even though the film does give you a slightly open ending he also added he had no intention of a sequel. So no London File then!

We thoroughly enjoyed The Berlin File ,is it the best to come from the director? In our opinion no . It's not to say it's not a supreme film. The one thing about some of Ryu Seung-Wan's other films is that Korean edge ,that certain look and feel associated with films like Arahan,Crying Fist or City of Violence.

The director is in the works for his next film and we look forward to seeing what he unloads on us next.

Score out of Ten = 8

Review by : Sertes Nake

Review Date : June 2013




Directed by Ryu Seung-wan
Produced by Kang Hye-jeong
Han Jae-deok
Geuk Soo-ran
Written by Ryu Seung-wan
Ted Geoghegan (English dialogue)
  • Ha Jung-woo
  • Han Suk-kyu
  • Ryu Seung-beom
  • Jeon Ji-hyun
Music by Jo Yeong-wook
Cinematography Choi Young-hwan
Editing by Kim Sang-beom
Kim Jae-beom
Distributed by CJ Entertainment
Release dates
  • January 31, 2013
Running time 120 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean
Budget ₩10.8 billion
Box office $48,146,202


 Character / Cast

  • Ha Jung-woo ... Pyo Jong-seong
  • Han Suk-kyu ... Jung Jin-soo
  • Ryu Seung-beom ... Dong Myung-soo
  • Jeon Ji-hyun ... Ryeon Jung-hee
  • Lee Geung-young ... Ri Hak-soo, North Korean ambassador
  • John Keogh ... Marty, CIA agent
  • Numan Açar ... Abdul
  • Pasquale Aleardi ... Dagan Zamir, Mossad agent
  • Choi Moo-sung ... Kang Min-ho
  • Kwak Do-won ... Chung Wa-dae
  • Kim Seo-hyung ... North Korean embassy secretary
  • Thomas Thieme ... Siegmund, German politician
  • Tayfun Bademsoy ... Assim
  • Werner Daehn ... Yuri, arms broker
  • Sinja Dieks ... restaurant waitress
  • Bae Jung-nam ... Myung-soo's agent
  • Baek Seung-ik ... agency personnel
  • Park Ji-hwan ... agency personnel
  • Seo Ji-oh ... agency backup personnel
  • Toni Varvasoudis ... Abdul's men
  • Matthias Günther ... Abdul's men
  • Oskars Lauva ... Abdul's men
  • Can Aiyden ... Abdul's men
  • Baek Dong-hyeon ... North Korean agent
  • Jo Ha-seok ... North Korean agent
  • Ji Geon-woo ... North Korean agent
  • Kwon Ji-hun ... South Korean agent
  • Kim Seon-woong ... South Korean agent
  • Kwak Jin-seok ... South Korean agent
  • Myung Gye-nam ... Dong Jung-ho, Myung-soo's father
  • Yoon Jong-bin ... South Korean field analyst
  • Lee Kyoung-mi ... South Korean office analyst


 source : wikipedia


                                            Posters / Stills


Behind the scenes




 Director Ryu Seung-Wan on stage at Terracotta 5(center) Joey Leung Festival director (left) with festival translator on the right.





Check out our site feature on Ryu Seung-Wan here.


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